He is part of the reason why we have Formula Drift today. Ryan Sage, co-founder of Formula Drift, together with Jim Liaw have created a successful trend and source of entertainment. What started in the States, have now spread to Asia and Formula Drift will be hitting Malaysia for its third year later this month.
As we approach the 2011 Formula Drift Asia finale in Malaysia, here are Ryan’s thoughts and comments on Malaysia and its drifting scene…
Q: What’s contributed to the vibrant Formula Drift scene in Malaysia?
A: Grassroot events are key. In Malaysia, there is a huge drifting grassroot scene and it is really easy for interested drivers to learn and pick up the sport. The grassroot scene takes place throughout the whole year and that allows the sport (and hence us) to continuously grow the fan base. By the time Formula Drift Malaysia rolls over at the end of the year, the fans are all ready to go and support their home boys as they take on the very best in the region.
Malaysia is also a great motorsports nation, with so many major races taking place throughout the year – that is a natural base of motorsports fans who have an appreciation for the skill sets and talent required in pro drifting. What is also unique about Formula Drift is that we are able to bring the excitement and on-track action right smack to the middle of downtown. I mean honestly, who would have thought that a few years back, drifting in Malaysia would be in such a bright spotlight!
Q: In your opinion, how has the Malaysian drifting scene developed over the years?
A: The professionalism of the teams have really increased. I believe that with the introduction of the Formula Drift Series, it has given the Malaysian drivers a platform to really hone both their on-track skills and off-track team management. Today the major Malaysian drift teams have very solid car builds, comprehensive pit support and PR management. Tengku Djan (the overall 2010 Formula Drift Asia champion) really set the benchmark for the community in terms of team management and just overall professionalism. I am very glad to see that Djan is now heavily involved in the grassroot scene as he begins to mentor the next generation of Malaysian drifting stars.
Q: Will we see another dominant driver feature this year or in the upcoming years?
A: What I believe that is we are going to see more and more of the top names from the USA and Japan series taking part in the Formula Drift Asia events. Asia is now the driving force behind the world’s economy and there is a huge appetite for professional drifting in ASEAN. Conversely, we are seeing more of the Formula Drift Asia drivers now taking part in the USA legs. It is truly a globalised sport now.
As for dominant drivers, obviously Daigo has been stamping his imprint on the last few rounds and is probably the favourite for overall champion. But for the next season I expect to see a lot of top pros give him a real run. More importantly, the skill level in ASEAN is really improving year on year significantly. And from my conversations with the veteran pros like Daijiro Yoshihara and Ken Gushi, they really feel that the gap is really close now.
Formula Drift Malaysia 2011 is coming up on 17 and 18 December at Dataran Merdeka from 10am to 6pm. Get your tickets at www.ticketpro.com.my!
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